Friday, February 28, 2014

Prattville Dragoons Camp Meeting for February 2014 - Part 3

The guest speaker at the Dragoons February 2014 Camp Meeting was Colonel (retired) Mark Anderson who provided a presentation on Robert E. Lee, his father Henry "Light Horse Harry" Lee and Stratford Hall where Lee was born and raised.  The following was provided by Col. Anderson detailing his presentation.

Meanwhile Robert continued and completed his studies in Alexandria. In 1825, he received an appointment to West Point from John C. Calhoun. The endorsements on his application read like a who's who of the era. He spent the next four years at the Academy. Taking into consideration those who were seniors when he entered and plebes when he graduated, his classmates were exceptional:

Albert Sidney Johnston, the Confederate commander killed at Shiloh.
Samuel Peter Heintzelman, later a Union general.
Augustus James Pleasonton, the Union cavalry general who faced Lee in Virginia in 1863.
Silas Casey, another Union general.
Leonidas Polk, later Bishop of Louisiana, founder of Sewanee and a Confederate lieutenant general, killed at Pine Mountain.
Gabriel James Rains, another Confederate general.
Philip St. George Cooke, a Union cavalry general who was Jeb Stuart's father-in-law.
Hugh Weedon Mercer, grandson of Revolutionary War Gen.
Hugh Mercer, Washington's physician, and grandfather of songwriter Johnny Mercer.
Jefferson Davis.
Thomas Fenwick Drayton, later a Confederate general from South Carolina.
Joseph Eggleston Johnston, the beloved commander of the Army of Tennessee.
Ormsby McKnight Mitchell, another Union general.
Albert Gallatin Blanchard, a Confederate general from Louisiana.
Theophilus Hunter Holmes, later a Confederate lieutenant general.
William Nelson Pendleton, later an Episcopal minister who became Lee's chief of artillery.
John Bankhead Magruder, another Confederate general.
Andrew Atkinson Humphreys, another Union general and one of their heroes of Gettysburg.
Samuel Ryan Curtis, another Union general.
Benjamin Stoddert Ewell, Jackson's successor as commander of the Second Corps of the Army of Northern Virginia.
Philip St. George Cocke, another Confederate general.
Erasmus Darwin Keyes, a Union General.
George Bibb Crittenden, a Confederate general from Kentucky.
Humphrey Marshall, nephew of Chief Justice Marshall and a Confederate general,
Martin Phillips Parks.

Lee never received a demerit in his four years, yet he finished second in his class, behind one Charles Mason of New York, whose distinguished civilian career is now largely forgotten. Of Lee's subsequent career, as an engineer officer under Scott in Mexico, building forts around our borders, as Superintendent at West Point, as a cavalry officer in Texas, his refusal of the field command of the Union Army, his great accomplishments as a Confederate general, and finally his time at Washington College, we all know.

One anecdote about Lee's time in Mexico. He and P.G.T. Beauregard were returning from scout. When they reached the American lines, a sentry challenged them, "Who goes there?" Beauregard answered "Officers" but Lee's answer was "Friends". That says something about both men.

In 1869, he wrote the introduction to a new edition of his father's memoirs.Of his own life and his Confederate service, he never wrote. In Donald Davidson's great poem, "Lee 1n the Mountains", he has Lee say:

            Why did my father write? I know he saw History clutched as a wraith out of blowing mist.           
Where tongues are loud, and a glut of little souls Laps at the too much blood and the burning house. He would have his say, but I shall not have mine. What I do is only a son's devoir
To a lost father. Let him only speak. The rest must pass to men who never knew the strike of armies, And never heard the long Confederate cry Charge through the muzzling smoke or saw the bright eyes of the beardless boys go up to death. It is Robert Lee who writes with his father's hand-­ The rest must go unsaid and the lips be locked.

In spite of that, there is some evidence that Lee determined to write something after all and that he was beginning to gather information when he was stricken. He died October 12, 1870.        He was only 63 years old.

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